Dr Pimple Popper Herself On How To Get Rid Of Acne For Good

Because a pimple is nobody’s friend

Dr Pimple Popper – dermatologist and social media sensation.

It’s no exaggeration to refer to Dr Sandra Lee as the golden girl of the cosmetology world. She is, quite simply, pimple popping royalty. You see, Dr Lee, (AKA Dr Pimple Popper) is not simply a qualified and talented dermatologist – she’s also a global media sensation.

At last count she had close to 2.5 million followers on Instagram and more than 2.7 million subscribers to her YouTube channel where her gut-churning pimple popping videos have been viewed more than 1.5 billion times. The reason? Firstly, she knows her stuff. But perhaps more importantly, Dr PP understands the emotional (and physical) burden that comes with various skin conditions and diseases, in particular acne.

Given all that, we were pretty excited to sit down with her when she visited Australia recently, and she did not disappoint. Dr PP is not only charming and delightful, she knows everything there is to know about acne and how to resolve it – whether you be in your teens, 20s, 30s, 40s or beyond.

No spots on this pretty face.


Here’s what she had to say.

Pimples – please explain the different types – because there are different types right? What causes them?

Acne Vulgaris is the medical term for acne as we all know it.  There are other kinds of acne as well that are much rarer but generally, when people talk about acne they are talking about acne vulgaris.  In general though, there are three “stages” or “types” of pimples:

Comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) – the difference between them is that blackheads are OPEN comedones, meaning that a pore is clogged up with keratin (dead skin cells) that is open to the surface of the skin.  When the skin cells are exposed to oxygen, they darken and these are the blackheads we all know about.  Whiteheads are CLOSED comedones which means that there’s a cover over it which means that the skin cells are not exposed to the oxygen so they will appear white – they’re usually pretty hard to see unless you stretch the skin.

Pustules and Inflammatory Papules (that traditional white raised bump or the red angry bumps on the skin) – The next level of severity is to have a papule or a pustule.  There is a bacteria on our skin called Proprionibacterium Acnes (“P.Acnes” for short) – this is the bacteria that, when it gets trapped under the skin with a blackhead or a whitehead, that’s when these papules and pustules form, creating an inflammatory reaction, redness and increased pain in the area.

Sure, her skin is perfect … and there’s a reason for that.


Cysts and Nodules (deep seated bumps really under the skin, can be very painful and red). This is a more severe case of acne that is also known as cystic acne. Those are those deep, painful ones under the surface of the skin – sometimes they come to a head and sometimes they don’t but they really hurt when you press on them and they can make your skin swollen in the area.  These are the lesions we as dermatologists are most concerned with because they are the ones that are most likely cause permanent acne scarring We usually try more aggressive treatment with cysts and nodules because these can cause permanent acne scarring.

Is there a specific cause?

There are a lot of different things that can contribute to acne and breakouts but in general, acne is strongly determined by genetics and hormones. People who have oily skin tend to pass on this tendency for oily skin to their children, and these are the people who tend to get more acne. If a parent had bad acne as a child, their children will more likely have acne. Also, hormones play a huge role which is why acne is most common during puberty, when hormone levels are at their highest. Hormones trigger increased oil production in the skin and cause the acne breakouts. Men tend to get acne mainly during these teenage years when hormones are spiking.  However, adult women can continue to get breakouts and most commonly this is associated with their menstrual cycle, as this is when there is a little bump in hormone levels too.



We like Kiehl’s breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment, $39.10. Clinically proven to clear blemishes and allow skin healing while reducing the appearance of acne scars. Also Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, $24. A clever blend of calamine and salicylic acid soothes and clears whiteheads overnight.

And the obvious question, what is the best way to treat them?

Acne treatment, as you might imagine, can really vary from case to case. There are over the counter solutions, a lot of different prescription medications (both topical and oral) as well as some Dermatological procedures that can help treat acne. I do encourage you see a dermatologist or GP to really get the most efficient and effective treatment methods, especially if you have more moderate to severe acne or skin conditions. You now have the option of a new topical acne treatment in Australia called ACZONE® 7.5% w/w gel. We have had ACZONE in the US for a few years so I’m pleased you have a new option there. ACZONE’s active ingredient is called dapsone, which is thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect on acne. It does works in both non-inflammatory (comedonal) acne and inflammatory acne.

In adult women who have breakouts that coincide with their menstrual cycle, birth control pills that help regulate hormones can also help regulate acne breakouts.  Also, many women have a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which causes multiple benign cysts to grow on the ovaries and also can increase blood levels of testosterone. In women with PCOS, they most typically have breakouts that occur around the chin and jawline and neck, and can even have a slightly deeper voice, and more hair growth on the chin, jaw and neck.  Actually, it’s not uncommon for a dermatologist to make the diagnosis of PCOS because women come in with breakouts and symptoms that are characteristic of PCOS.


Try Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Wash, $14.99. Cleanses deeply to help eliminate spots and blackheads without over-drying. Also, Natio Acne Clear Tinted Purifying Spot Treatment, $9.95. Mineral pigments conceal redness while benzoyl peroxide fights inflammation.

And of course there are also a variety of different in-office procedures that can be done by a skincare professional such as facials and extractions. As a dermatologist I also treat acne patients with chemical peels and laser treatments.  Estheticians often steam the skin first to make blackheads and whiteheads extract more easily, and can apply enzyme treatments to help breakdown the debris within pores so extractions are simpler.  Also, there are laser and light treatments that are popular and effective, but these are often not covered by health insurance.

What is the worst thing we can do?

Well, you can really make things worse if the pimple doesn’t have a head yet and you try to pop it yourself. If you have a red pimple that hurts to touch, and is deep under the skin, it’s pretty impossible to pop it at that point. Usually this means that the pimple is still under the skin, and trying to extract it can not only be very painful, but you can cause irritation and even infection that will make it harder for the pimple to heal. Worse yet, if you really traumatize the skin, you risk scarring and that is likely permanent. If you feel like products are simply not working for you or you are really experiencing irritation and pain on your skin, you should absolutely see a Dermatologist to get more information and help.

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